December 15, ’12
The overall tally on yesterday’s most recent school shooting is 27 people dead. I’ve found words, I’ve shed tears. I spent a good part of yesterday and this morning online or on my phone, talking to & sharing with other people.
When I woke this morning, I remembered that the shooting happened, that it wasn’t a bad dream but a waking reality.
My personal heartache is still with me, as well. I don’t want to leave this house at the end of January 2013. I don’t want to say goodbye to one of the most wonderful homes I’ve ever known. I don’t want to pack up mountains of my stuff and move out. I don’t want to leave my gardens and all the things that are planted in them that I was looking forward to seeing next Spring.
My personal grief is in the Shock and Denial Stage with tints of Acceptance. That’s also where I am regarding yesterday’s School shooting in Sandy Hook.
I used to live much closer to the Newtown area and for almost a year, I worked in a publishing office in Newtown. I know Sandy Hook, too. I had friends there and often visited them before I went home. I used to think that I’d like to live in Sandy Hook because to me, it seemed like a good place to live a peaceful life close to Nature. I’m angry that these 2 familiar places and the people who live there are now severely scarred by the sudden and tragic loss of 27 people — even the shooter. I wish that this world contained more perfection and that these people were not dead, 26 of them as a result of the decisions made by a young man with a sick mind who committed suicide when he was done acting out his innermost darkness. I wish that the tender & innocent young people — babies, really– did not have to witness the violence and killing around them before they, too, were killed and died in such a violent and heartless manner.
My heart was grieving for me and my fellow tenants yesterday morning as well as for a landlord I once trusted and liked very much. I still like my former landlord; he was very good to all of us. It’s difficult to accept that ultimately, he betrayed us all and despite the fact that we were good tenants, we now have to pay the price of homelessness.
My heart was grieving and I decided rather than work on my series, I’d start a new painting of a small and lonely apple tree at the boundary of my mother’s property. I’ve known that apple tree for decades; it was old when I was a child. It’s well known by all in my old neighborhood and it’s there to this day, a lone and scraggy old apple tree by the side of the road between my mother’s house and the neighbor’s apple storage building . One Spring afternoon in ’03, my mother and I walked up the road to the apple tree and as we walked the short distance, were reminiscing about it. We always called it “the little appletree” and we all knew which apple tree that was. It was a boundary and a marker. Something we went as far as or to, or passed…. Something I hadn’t known until that day: My mother told me that an old-timer in the neighborhood told her, when she was new to the neighborhood, that the little apple tree produced a variety of apple called “Seek No Further.”
I began to experience that tree differently. I translate “Seek No Further” as being ‘this is all you want, all you need, right here, right now.’ I see my old neighborhood — my childhood world — as a state of Reality, sometimes joyous, sometimes raw and savage — and everything inbetween — that’s right outside the door and covering a vast area of Being containing all I need and want as far as the eye can see.
I started the sketch yesterday morning a little after 9:30. The original reference photo is on my computer. Around ten of 10, I had a phone call and while I was talking on the phone, I idly checked out my Facebook page on my close-by computer which is when I spotted the news of a shooting in Sandy Hook. I followed the news of the shootings all day, becoming more and more aghast at the scale of violence and pain to peaceful adults and innocent children. Now “Seek No Further” is, to me, a part of many events from my relatively blissful childhood, stories from my mother and memories of yesterday’s shooting of 26 innocent people in Sandy Hook, CT.
I’ll never forget.